Posted: 06/15/2023

A Museum for Every Interest in Lancaster, PA

From history to hands on, we’ve got you covered.

For an authentic immersion in early Pennsylvania German life (1740-1940), visit Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum.

History to hands-on, art to industrial – there’s a museum for every interest in Lancaster and the surrounding area. They are the perfect place to spend a cold or rainy afternoon or wander around to escape the summer’s heat. You can dive into local history or let the kids learn with hands-on activities and experiments.

Find the museum that strikes your fancy and get ready to learn.

Just for Kids

If cabin fever has set in or you’re looking for a way to sneak learning into summer break, head over to one of Lancaster’s kid-centric museums. Science fun can be found at Lancaster Science Museum and North Museum, while kids can dive deep into their imaginations at Hands-on House. These museums making learning fun!

  • Lancaster Science Factory is a hands-on, interactive museum featuring exhibits that tap into science, technology and engineering.
  • North Museum of Nature and Science is a science museum specializing in natural science with a live animal room, planetarium and collections of rocks, fossils and more.
  • Hands-on House Children’s Museum is an interactive museum featuring exhibits that promote hands-on learning through play.
  • The Hershey Story is a family-friendly museum celebrating the life and work of Milton S. Hershey, and the town known for chocolate making.
  • National Toy Train Museum displays rare, unusual and specialty trains and accessories from the 1800s to the present representing over a 100 different manufacturers. There is also a Research Library with a wealth of information on toy trains and manufacturers.

Bonus: Turkey Hill Experience features interactive exhibits allowing you to learn about dairy culture, the story of Turkey Hill Dairy and how the company's ice cream and iced tea flavors are selected and created.

Civil War & Pennsylvania History

As one of America’s oldest inland cities, Lancaster is packed with history and the historical sites that celebrate it. Many include tours with guides dressed in period clothes and special reenactments that create a truly immersive experience. From early settlers to the first (and only) president from PA, you’ll learn the way of life from back in the day.

  • Christiana Historical Society is a free, publicly accessible historical site detailing the town’s involvement in the Underground Railroad, located at the Zercher’s hotel.
  • The National Civil War Museum is dedicated to the education of the American Civil War 1861-1865. This unique, one of a kind facility portrays the humanistic side of war, from slavery to camp life to the turmoil of 19th century politics, with equal emphasis to both sides.
  • Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center is a destination to explore and learn about the Battle of Gettysburg. Visitors can watch a special film, A New Birth of Freedom and take a tour of the battle field.

Bonus: State Museum of Pennsylvania offers visitors four floors of exhibits presenting the state's story from earth's beginning to the present. Popular attractions include the Dino Lab, Carboniferous Forest, Hall of Mammals, Native American Village, and Civil War exhibit.

Wheatland | President James Buchanan Residence | Discover Lancaster

Historic House Museums

If the walls of these buildings could talk, they'd have countless stories to tell. See for yourself, the buildings that that add into the framework for history in Lancaster County. Take a guided tour at one of these houses to see colonial architecture, antique furniture, and machinery and to feel truly immersed in history.

  • LancasterHistory/President Buchanan’s Wheatland is a history center featuring exhibits and galleries centering on Lancaster’s history and the former home of James Buchanan, America’s 15th president.
  • 1719 Museum is a historic home built in 1719 featuring several barns and outbuildings, animals, and exhibits focusing on Mennonite history and colonial and Victorian farm life.
  • Historic Rock Ford offers guided tours of the 1794 Georgian-style mansion of General Edward Hand, adjutant general to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Make sure you visit the John J. Snyder Jr. Gallery of Early Lancaster County Decorative Arts. The gallery showcases a one-of-a-kind collection consisting of over 230 objects by Lancaster County artisans including tall case clocks, silver, furniture, and portraiture created during Edward Hand’s residency in America.
  • Lititz Historical Foundation housed within the Christian Schroop home which was built in 1793. This historical site allows you to discover what life was like during the 18th century and takes you back in time as you traverse through 17th and 18th century artifacts.
  • Mascot Roller Mills and Ressler Family Home is a historic and remarkably preserved water-powered grain mill. Step back in time to learn about milling history along the banks of scenic Mill Creek. Admission is free and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, May through October.
Ephrata Cloister | Pennsylvania German | Pennsylvania Dutch | Discover Lancaster | Amish | Mennonite History

Pennsylvania German, Amish, & Mennonite History

Cornwall Iron Furnace | Industrial Revolution | Ironworks | Industrial Museum | Discover Lancaster | Pennsylvania History


From the production of large pieces of iron and steel to the more intricate creation of watches and clocks, you’ll get a peek at these industries – from their history to their present day artistry. If you’re fascinated by how things are made, you’ll dig the following museums.

  • The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum is a museum that celebrates steelmaking and the Lukens and Huston families, who produced steel used in many notable projects.
  • Cornwall Iron Furnace is a historical site that is home to America’s most complete charcoal fueled ironmaking complex, used in the early American iron industry.
  • Lancaster Medical Heritage Museum has a mission to preserve and protect our rich medical heritage with special attention given to Lancaster County. The museum strives to do this through education, exhibition, and research in a fun and accessible way.
  • National Watch & Clock Museum is a museum solely dedicated to horology – the history, science and art of timekeeping and timekeepers, and featuring an extensive collection to clocks, watches and other timekeeping devices.

Bonus: American Military Edged Weaponry Museum is one of this country's most comprehensive collections of U.S. military knives and artifacts used by the American servicemen.

Barry's Car Barn Museum | Lancaster, PA | Automobile History | Car History | Muscle Cars | Vintage Cars


Automobiles, locomotives and fire trucks – oh my! Learn about these vehicles and their history, and browse many relics of past eras that relate to how people moved from place-to-place. Dive into the history and effects of these vehicles on society.

  • AACA Museum is an automotive museum featuring antique vehicles, movie-themed exhibits and the famous Hershey’s kissmobile.
  • Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is a railroad museum celebrating Pennsylvania’s rich railroading history.
  • Barry's Car Barn hosts a collection of American muscle cars from the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Bonus: The Pennsylvania National Fire Museum is a museum devoted to fire fighter heritage and history.

Red Raven Gallery | Art in Lancaster | Discover Lancaster | Art Museums Lancaster | Galleries Lancaster


For those who prefer to stroll around an art museum, Lancaster has a few to check out during your visit. Many incorporate rotating exhibits into the mix, filling each visit with new art to browse. The variety is superb – from local artists to the work of Charles Demuth.

  • Demuth Museum is a museum housing the paintings of Charles Demuth, located in his former studio and home
  • Lancaster Museum of Art is a small museum showcasing local, regional & international works of art
  • Phillips Museum of Art is a museum located at Franklin & Marshall Collage featuring permanent and rotating fine art exhibitions, including student art

Bonus: Red Raven Art Company represent over 40 established artists, both local and regional. Part of their mission statement includes nurturing emerging talent. They have dedicated a portion of our gallery space to the display of up and coming young talent.

Visit our Museums page to find even more to explore!

More Museums

Related Content

A three-floor brick mansion with white detailing, columns, and a grand staircase that belonged to James Buchanan.

Explore Lancaster County's history and heritage.

Attention history buffs! It’s one thing to read about history but it’s a whole other experience to stay overnight at a historical hotel...

Lititz Historical Society in Lititz, PA

Lancaster County museums and tours offer insight into every aspect of Lancaster's history & culture. From local art and the Amish community to...

Whether you’re planning some free fun ahead of time or are looking for a quick way to fill a few hours while you’re...


Herr House summer

1719 Museum

The 1719 Herr House stands as the oldest structure and the...

Demuth Museum

Demuth Museum

A master watercolorist and pioneer of the Precisionist...

Barry's Car Barn

Barry's Car Barn

Take a trip down memory lane with Barry's collection of...